Is Running on a Treadmill Good for You? What You Need To Know

Is running on a treadmill good for you

Is running on a treadmill good for you? This is an age-old question. The fact is that it has both advantages and disadvantages. There are some types of workouts you will do more efficiently on this machine than others.

However, on some occasions running on a treadmill can cause aimless and a never-ending gnawer wheel-feeling to some people. It depends on the individual’s goal, the history of injury, and the preference. Read this article to understand more.

Beginner treadmill walking workout

If you’re a beginner, using a treadmill requires the application of the same principles that runners will use to prepare for athletes. To avoid serious injuries, high blood pressure, dehydration, and dizziness, you need to increase the stamina gradually. For effective treadmill use, follow the following steps:

  • Consult your doctor:

    It is good to consult your doctor if you have back and joint problems. The doctor will guide you whether to stick to a low impact walking or if you can as well do high impact running. We will discuss more of the health limitations shortly.

  • Use a pair of comfortable shoe:

    The right pair of the shoe should be cushioned, have a space in the toes and should be in a position to support your arches. The shoes should feel right from the beginning (do not purchase shoes which are uncomfortable). Try wearing them every day for about two weeks before working out so that the shoe conforms to your body posture.

  • Stay hydrated:

    For a beginner treadmill walking workout,  It is recommended you drink 0.7 liters of pure water 90 minutes before you start a treadmill workout. This takes care of the excessive sweating during the exercise, and hence you won’t suffer from dehydration. Make sure you carry at least 0.7 liters of water with you which you can continue drinking during the workout.

  • Wear thick socks for cushioning:

    To avoid blisters due to the friction between the treadmill surface and your shoes, wear thick crew socks instead of wearing ankle socks.

  • Warm up and relax:

    Dedicate about 10 minutes before and after the treadmill exercise to walking at a pace of 3 kilometres per hour.

  • Be attentive to treadmill settings:

    Make sure you notice a speed and incline sections where you have to decrease or increase the settings. These are the main buttons to use on the treadmill. Use the automated workouts until you become comfortable with the manual settings. At this point, you can customize the workout to suit your level.

  • Use the emergency clip whenever necessary:

    This clip is a safety shut off. It keeps you from falling or from being injured whenever you lose balance.

Beginner treadmill walking workout

Running on the Treadmill vs Running Outdoors

Which is better: running outside or on the treadmill? The answer depends on your goals. If you are running to improve your cardiovascular health, then a treadmill should work just fine. If, on the other hand, if you are running to train for a contest, then you should run outdoors. At the end of the day, the health benefits do not vary – what matters is the effort you put into it.

The two have their difference though. For starters, while running on a treadmill feels comfortable thanks to the smooth surface and environment, it deprives you of the sceneries one enjoys when running outdoors. Again, this depends on your goals, preferences, and circumstances.

Brisk Walking Speeds

Brisk walking is an exercise of moderate intensity. The average brisk walking pace stands at 3 miles per hour. The easy walking pace is slightly slower than that, while the fast walking pace is measured at 4 miles per hour.

Brisk walking has more health and fitness benefits compared to easy walking, and it eliminates the hassle of fast walking.

How to Accurately Measure the Distance Covered on a Treadmill

Some treadmills have terminals that calculate data such as distance walked, speed, and time is taken. But what do you do if yours doesn’t? Don’t worry. It is easy to determine distance covered using your wristwatch.

As mentioned above, the average brisk walking pace is 3 miles per hour. With this figure in mind, it is possible to determine the distance covered in one minute using this formula:

(3÷60)×minutes spent walking.

For instance, suppose you want to know distance covered for a two-minute walk. The answer will be;

(3÷60)×2=0.1 miles.  

That’s easy, right?

The Impact of Treadmills on Your Health

Treadmills offer the ideal chance to exercise at home. Exercising, in turn, brings about numerous health benefits. These include:

  • Improved Heart Health

Running is great for your heart’s health. It gets the heart pumping, which helps in the strengthening of the cardiovascular muscles. It also helps to increase the flow and circulation of blood around the body.

A stronger heart also comes with other benefits including a reduced risk of heart diseases as well as lower chances of hypertension.

  • Building Muscles

Running is the best way to build muscles all over the body. It exercises muscles in the arms, back and chest, and the legs. The result is a lean and fit body, which also plays well for your appearance and social escapades.

Building muscles through running, however, takes time. Don’t also expect to build bulging muscles like bodybuilders on a treadmill alone.  

  • Losing Weight

Your treadmill will be very helpful for burning fats and calories especially if you are dealing with an overweight problem. Simple walking or running on the treadmill for several minutes a day will help you to burn excess fats and eventually have a slim and fit body. It will also help to shed cholesterol which not only causes obesity but also puts the heart at risk.

  • Strengthening Bones

Running is a weight-bearing exercise. This means that it exerts pressure on the bones and muscles. With time, the pressure helps build stronger muscles and bones. The result is a healthy and strong posture that may last even at old-age – yes, running will keep you looking and feeling younger.

best treadmills for home use of

The Physical/ Health Limitations of Running on a Treadmill

A treadmill may be convenient to use, but some circumstances can limit how and when you use it. The most common ones are:

  • Back Pain

Since running and walking are weight-bearing exercises, this weight may feel unbearable when you are suffering from back pain. However, you can go around it by reducing your pace. Moreover, walking is healthier than doing nothing, right?

  • Bad Knees

Running and walking also exercises the joints, including the knees. This is why a bad knee is always catastrophic for the treadmill enthusiast.

  • Torn Muscles

Torn muscles are common when exercising. When they occur, then your exercising may be limited to walking or jogging.

Now back to our main question; is running on a treadmill good for you? – let’s discuss the advantages.

The Advantages

  • It is not hard on your joints:

It has a smooth, cushioned belt which is not as hard as compared to hard pavement. Running on this machine will reduce the impact on the muscles, joints, and the whole body. This is helpful especially when coming back from an injury. It is important to ease your way back to walking after an injury by alternating outdoor runs and treadmill a few times a month.

  • It is possible to simulate race environments:

Modern treadmills will help you create your own course profile which can be used to replicate the course you are training for.  If you are not training for a run, it is possible to shift your workout by choosing certain terrains from around the globe. You also don’t have to worry about weather changes or trail issues while running on the treadmill.

  • It gives you an opportunity to check your form:

A treadmill gives you a chance to do what you cant do on the road in front of a mirror. Watching yourself through the mirror will increase your awareness and give you a sense of kinesthetic.

  • It is safe:

A treadmill promises a safe environment free from hazards like inattentive people and cars. A beginner treadmill walking workout tunes your attention to the running instead of distracting you.

  • There is no difference in the difficulty level:

The question of difficulty levels will automatically arise when it comes to running outdoors versus running indoors. Beginners on a treadmill walking workout think that running outdoors is empirically harder as compared to running indoors on a treadmill machine. But according to a research,  setting a treadmill to a 0.5 % incline accurately will reflect the same energy as running outside. In other words, a treadmill is effective when you include a little incline.

The Disadvantages

  • You can lose your agility:

Although research shows that using this machine will provide your joints with cushion, you will not get the added advantage of running on a pavement or on uneven terrain. Even if you feel the ground outside as flat, it is not. This means that your muscles are gradually making some adjustments in order to adapt to the surfaces.

These adjustments are good for balance and coordination, and they will help you to improve your daily routine. However, while running on a treadmill will help you improve the overall fitness, it will not caricature the reality of life situations that are parallel to running outdoors.

These adjustments are good for balance and coordination, and they will help you to improve your daily routine. However, while running on a treadmill will help you improve the overall fitness, it will not caricature the reality of life situations that are parallel to running outdoors.

best treadmills

Features to Consider when Purchasing a Treadmill for Running

Treadmills vary in many aspects. Additionally, different people have different preferences. As such, it is important to know what to look for before walking into the store. Here are three important features to consider:

1. The Mode of Operation

Treadmills come in two types: manual and motorized. Motorized treadmills are fitted with motors that operate automatically as you run. They also tend to feature more advanced technological components compared to the former. However, they are more expensive to buy and maintain.

Manual treadmills, on the other hand, are less expensive but tend to be difficult to operate especially for a beginner treadmill walking workout.

2. Price

Treadmills vary in prices depending on a variety of factors. Prices tend to average between $500 and $3000, but high-end treadmills cost much more than that. Consequently, it is prudent to consider the cost involved and determine whether you can afford it.

However, remember that you get what you pay for; so don’t go for the cheapest treadmill on the lot.

3. Space

You must have already visualized where you will station your treadmill, right? The space allocated will determine the size of the treadmill you buy. You need to make sure that the treadmill does not only fit but also leaves some space for movement – the extra space lessens the impact of accidents.

If you are short on space and absolutely need a large treadmill, then you should consider going for a folding type.

The Bottom Line

Running on a treadmill has clear benefits. If you are a beginner, it is good to pick the kind of walking that you are likely to enjoy and stick to it. If you go to the nearest treadmill, make sure you vary the incline and the speed. So, Is running on a treadmill good for you? I’m sure you now know the answer, don’t you?  

10 thoughts on “Is Running on a Treadmill Good for You? What You Need To Know”

  1. I have wanted to use a treadmill but have been intimated by not knowing what to do, now I know and I will definitely try it out, especially having seen the 5 health benefits that you have outlined.

    Thank you for also outlining the other side effects that Comes With exercising on the treadmill, since I dont suffer from any of the listed, It’s time for me to try out the treadmill.

    • Hi, Cinderella and thank you.

      I am happy that this article helps you to start using a treadmill.  Like about all things there is pros and cons so it is important to find out what works for you.
      But it can too be good to mix things, sometimes run outside and sometimes on a treadmill. For example in the winter time.

      If I can help you with anything else, or if you have any questions, don´t hesitate to contact me.

  2. Interesting read. Although I do have a question for you in regards to running surface. I enjoy running outside but I find running on road asphalt seems to provide more cushioning than a concrete footpath. Is it just me or is that a fact? I also get a sore back from running on occasion, any tips?

    • Hi, Nigel Robinson and thank you.

      People get a different feeling about the asphalt. Personally, I like footpath more but I know a lot of people which have the same feeling as you have. I think a big part of it is where you come from. In hot countries is it softer than in cold, for example.
      Too, the treadmills are different too. So there are many factors which come in that issue.
      But about the sore back from running on occasion, run in comfortable shoes if you don´t. Plus do not be in ankle socks, be in higher compression running socks. It should help a lot, in fact, it is very important when you run outside.

      If I can help you with anything else, or if you have any questions, don´t hesitate to contact me.

  3. I am looking to do some treadmill work on top of my regular weightlifting routine in hopes of helping me burn more calories and lose weight a little bit faster.

    Would light running for 10 or 15 minutes do the trick for me? I am usually pressed for time before I go to work.

    • Hi, jessie palaypay and thank you.

      Yes, you can. I used it in the gym to warm up before the weight lifting.  It has been proved that if you use so-called HIT training (high-intensity training), you don´t need so much time to feel the difference. For example, using the Tabata system and run on full power in 20 seconds and slow in 10 show a good process.

      If I can help you with anything else, or if you have any questions, don´t hesitate to contact me.

  4. Great read! I just have a quick question in regard to running on a treadmill vs. running outside… I know the treadmill isn’t great for the knees, but my back seems to handle it better. When I run outside my back hurts… Do you think there is a difference?

    Just wondering if maybe there are other people that have the same issue…

    • Hi, Jason and thank you.

      The point is that persons are so different about this things. So that it the way I stress that you consult your doctor if you have a problem. For example, I had in many years difficult to run on treadmills because of my back. But later I found out that it seems to be so much difference between brands that I can run on some but not others. I have talked about it with my physiotherapist and it seems to be the case, the difference between the treadmills.
      If I can help you with anything else, or if you have any questions, don´t hesitate to contact me.

  5. I am in my senior years now but have an interest in getting a treadmill for just walking to keep my weight down and regulated along with getting some exercise.

    Do you have any suggestions you could make for someone like me?  I am not a big person so my guess is something smaller would work best as far as size of a treadmill.  Also, I live in town so walking here is not advised and I think this would be an ideal way for me to get exercise along with some cardio workout.  Am I right here?

    Thanks for any suggestions you can possibly give me.


    • Hi, Susan and thank you.

      Good idea. Too many forgot that treadmills are good for walking also. And too, that walking is an excellent exercise.

      I wrote an article about the best home treadmills. And will update it regularly if better items come. You can see it here.

      Have a look at the Gold’s Gym Trainer 720 which I choose as the best one. You can see a review of it here.

      If I can help you with anything else, or if you have any questions, don´t hesitate to contact me.


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